Vincent Muldoon claimed his third Irish Senior National Championship on Sunday after a comprehensive 10-5 triumph over Martin McCrudden in Letterkenny.
In doing so, the Galway potter equals the record of most Irish Championships, joining his final opponent McCrudden and Davy Morris on a hat-trick of victories.
The first four frames of the final were shared in just over 40 minutes with neither player interested in hanging around and a break of over 50 in each.
However, Muldoon took control with a succession of close-frame wins to reel off five in a row to lead 7-2, and from there simply nursed his advantage to lift the coveted trophy.
The last eight had consisted of a variety of top class performers, ensuring a dramatic climax to a long season.
Ranked no.1 Rodney Goggins went in as the pre-event favourite and continued his streak of having reached the semi-finals or better in all of the Senior events on the calendar during this campaign, but fell at the last four hurdle to McCrudden 6-3.
Meanwhile, friend of the blog Johnny Williams ended the season on a high with a run to the semis only to be beaten 6-2 by club-mate Muldoon in a high-quality affair.
The ‘Sniper’ was on-hand again to give his assessment of the weekend’s play, as well as his thoughts on what has been a successful season for him personally.
“For once I can say I was very happy about my game. I played Brendan O’Donoghue in the quarter-final and I was by far the underdog but I love that feeling. I started off well by going 2-0 up but within a few minutes it was 2-2 – when Brendan gets going he is really hard to stop. Before I knew it, he was 4-2 up. I had a great chance to go 3-0 up and I played a poor position shot from the last black to yellow, it played on my mind and I struggled a bit. At 4-2 down I had nothing to lose and said to myself that I was going for everything as the pockets were generous.”
“I had a 65 and a 87 from what I can remember to level at 4-4, then Brendan got in early in the decider and made 60. The game was over in my head but he missed frame ball on two or three occasions after that and left me with an easy starter. I just had to keep my head and I did very well, clearing up to the yellow and laying a lucky, yet effective, snooker on the green, which he missed and gave me a free ball. I took the blue and cleared the table from there. It was such a relief, not just to play well, but to play well under the circumstances – I know I have good bottle now.
“Against Vinnie I felt very confident going into the game. But before I knew it, he knocks in a 116, a 60 odd and 80 odd and I’m 3-0 down and in shock. He was in again in the fourth and had another 60 break but missed and I cleared with 70 to get back in it, then I took a scrappy next to make it 3-2. After Vinnie went two clear again, the next frame was big from both our perspectives.
“I had a lead of 30 points with the last red on the table, colours near all cushions and I felt in control, but he pulled out a mystical clearance to win on the black and after that my head was gone. He played fantastic, I even played really well myself, I only made one mistake per frame and that was enough for him to capitalise. No other player really does that to me on the circuit, I usually get a few chances.
“In the final Vinnie played well indeed, he did what he had to do but in all fairness it was made quite easy for him at times. Martin’s long potting on the day was the best I had seen all season but, by his own admission, he was making too many silly mistakes. Martin started off for me the better of both players and Vinnie was lucky to get in even at the interval. But at 2-2 it all went pear-shaped for McCrudden.
“The story of the match in my eyes was that Martin would get in first, make a 60 break, miss an easy ball or go for a very difficult shot and Muldoon would come in and do his usual hoover tactics and clear the table. Vinnie won three or four frames on the black ball. I was gobsmacked that he went 7-2 ahead because at best he should have been 5-4 down! McCrudden, though, didn’t change his aggressive tactics and that proved to be his downfall. Vinnie is too good without gifting him frames. It was a great standard of final with break after break and Vinnie was just the better player on the day.
“Martin didn’t lose the head and won three in a row to get back to 7-5 down but, 40 up in the next, he missed a very easy red and Vinnie cleared for 8-5. If it had went to 7-6 then game-on but Vinnie was able to control the last two frames comfortably for a well-deserved third Championship.
“For me personally, my season overall went well. My ranking improved from last season but my match play has improved the most. I’m no longer edgy about taking on the top boys and I have the game to beat each and every one of them on my day. I have beaten Martin, Vinnie, TJ (Dowling), and Brendan in ranking tournaments playing great snooker so I don’t see why I can’t go the full way in an event.
“My aim for next season is obviously to get a Q-School spot as the pro spot has been taken away from the National Governing Body. I would love to qualify for the European Senior team or the World Amateurs. If I got selected for any of the above I would consider my next season a success. Because I have been playing so well I have it in my head that if I don’t win or at least get to a final of a ranking tournament next season I think I’ll call it a day with snooker.
“I’ve been playing well for many years and the results are starting to show but I want next season to be great. I won’t accept anything less. It would take a brave man to bet against me winning a Senior ranking event next season in my opinion – I’m well capable no matter how unorthodox my technique is, so they are my goals. I have been to five ranking semi-finals now I think, it’s only a matter of time before it clicks for me.”
Thanks, as always, to the ‘Sniper’ for his insight this week and indeed for the contributions he has made throughout the entire campaign.
Championship Weekend Results
Rodney Goggins 5-3 Robert Murphy
Martin McCrudden 5-1 Colm Gilcreest
Vincent Muldoon 5-3 Robert Redmond
Johnny Williams 5-4 Brendan O’Donoghue
Rodney Goggins 3-6 Martin McCrudden
Vincent Muldoon 6-2 Johnny Williams
Vincent Muldoon 10-5 Martin McCrudden
2012 Irish National Champion: Vincent Muldoon